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Tuesday, December 9, A.D. 2008
Abandonia

If you miss those simpler times back in the early 1990’s when you could play DOS based games that would not crash your computer or require weeks of your life to win, Abandonia is the site for you. Of questionable legality, it offers reviews and downloads of “abandonware”—software no longer sold or, it seems, legally maintained.

You can play some of the games on Windows, but most of them require a free program called DOSBox. DOSBox is very easy to use, but it can be tricky to learn if you have never used DOS, as the program’s instructions are not user-friendly. Basically, as I understand it, the program runs an imitation of DOS in Windows.

Once you initiate the program, you have to mount the folder from your hard drive where you have saved the game that you wish to play so that the game thinks that its folder is C:. (If the game uses a CD-ROM disk, as well, you just copy the CD files into another folder and then mount the folder as if it were a D: drive).

For instance, I like Lords of the Realm, which runs off a CD. I actually own the CD, but I play it still in DOSBox. I copied the CD into one folder (which I named lordscddisk, and I put it in a “games” folder on my C: drive) and I placed the installed game files into another (named lordscd). Then, I mounted both folders. At the prompt in DOSBox, which starts out so . . .

Z:\>
Z:\>mount d c:/games/lordscddisk -t cdrom

The “-t cdrom” is DOSBox language that tells the program to run the virtual drive (d) like a CD-ROM. Then, I type . . .

Z:\>mount c c:/games/lordscd
Z:\>c:
C:\>lords

Depending on the game, the execution command changes. You can easily tell it from looking at the files, though. It will have an .exe extension. There may be set-up execution files that were used to adjust sound devices and such in the old systems. I typically ignore them.

Also, in the DOSBox window, you have to adjust the Cpu cycle speed—3000 is the default. Depending on the game, you will want to increase this number by pressing Control-F12 (while Control-F11 decreases it). For more demanding games, I choose 16,000.

To make the DOSBox screen monitor wide, you hit Alt-Enter. Hitting Alt-Enter again reduces the screen again, and so forth. Occassionally, the color scheme messes up, but hitting Alt-Enter twice restores the right colors.

DOSBox is quite simple, and it allows you to play old games on your new computer. It is a useful tool for Abandonia.

Some of my favorite games available from Abandonia that you may wish to try are:

Anvil of Dawn

Castles

Castles II - Siege and Conquest

Celtic Tales - Balor of the Evil Eye

Civilization

Civilization II

Colonization

Conquests of the Longbow - The Legend of Robin Hood

Darklands

Hidden Agenda

Kings Bounty

Lords of the Realm

Master of Magic

Pilgrims’ Quest

I am likely leaving many out. In future posts, I may review some games. Until then, the links take you to Abandonia’s pages on the games, with descriptions, screen shots, commentaries, and other resources. Have fun.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, December 9, Anno Domini 2008
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